Afternoon all. Jeremy Corbyn, leader of -and principle opponent to- the Labour Party here.
When my young friend Seumas suggested that I should try a little harder to get with the Zeitgeist I asked if he was talking about the tall chap from the ’85 Soviet delegation…then he reminded me that we’d agreed I wasn’t going to write my own jokes any more, and there was an awkward silence. Apropos of nothing he asked me what the last film I’d seen was, and that was an easy one to answer. Just last night I had a few friends round to watch Battleship Potemkin. I don’t mind telling you that I had a few too many shandies and sang The Red Flag too loudly at the end…but my friends left me a copy of Watchtower to read, so it proved to be a very enjoyable evening.
Anyway, Seumas asked me to write a 500-word review of an animated film called Toy Story 3 for some terrible blog (whatever that is). His parting words to me were, “This is a great family film, Jez. You’re going to love it!”
Toy Story 3, reviewed by J Corbyn
Oh lord, what a depressing film!
Toy Story 3 is classic polemic satire, in the spirit of Orwell Animal Farm and, as with that work, the ruling classes are represented by the whole of humanity. The animals are replaced by sentient toys, who exist only to be the play-things of their human overlords.
The film opens with the toys trying a desperate ploy to get some attention from their owner. With Boxer’s interminable spirit they long to work (euphemistically called ‘play’), but they have been cast aside because their master no longer needs them.
When their ploy to get any ‘play’ at all from their owner, Andy, the scene of the depression widens to reveal that he is soon to head to college and that they face an uncertain future. The leader of the toys, Woody, expects to go with Andy (in a world where toys are “owned” and not allowed to even let their masters to see them moving or speaking independently Woody is very much an ‘Uncle Tom’ figure – he’s even played by an actor called Tom, in yet another example of Hollywood dumbing things down). The other toys are resigned to being tied in bin-bags and thrown into the loft; a perfect metaphor for the suffocating blackness and sub-standard living conditions that come with zero-hour contracts. They may no longer be cluttering up the house (or appearing on the unemployment roll), but they face the possibility of never “working” again, of never leaving the bin bag (a literal poverty trap) until they’re thrown away or sold on eBay.
I took a call from Ken and missed a bit (“Yes, Ken, I’m sure whatever you say will be fine, but I have to go now…”), but when I started watching again the toys were arriving in day-care; a utopian society where the ‘ruling class’ of humans were transient and ephemeral, more like consumers of the toys’ “labour” than masters of it. Lotso, the friendly ruler of the community, assures the toys that here they will be “masters of their own destiny”, and I looked forward to watching them work as productive members of this ideal, caring socialist community.
Then it went bad!
If the children were the consumers then it became clear that Lotso was not protecting the toys from the worst excesses of market forces, but rather had, like Orwell’s pigs, succumbed to favouritism and the lure of personal power. There was even a terrifying monkey, filling the role of the secret police that allegedly existed in Stalin’s Russia.
Ultimately Woody and the other toys cooperated to help each other avoid (literal) economic and political melt-down, only to be given away, like chattels, by their owner. Shockingly this made them happy. They longed for the status quo! The day-centre they’d left behind became a better society, but they had no wish to return to it, only to hear via propaganda that it was doing well. Lotso, who’d forged the society, ended up strapped to the front of a bin-lorry. He was literally a figure-head for garbage (I genuinely can identify with him)!
There, then, we had the messages of this “kids” film. Work hard. Be willingly cast aside if that is what your masters require. Be suspicious of those who claim to be building a better, more equal, society for you. Do not collectivise or even speak against the ruling classes. The way things are is the best possible way. The name of your master may change, but your servitude is eternal.
This wasn’t the chiding, warning, teaching voice of Orwell, this was Tory propaganda wrapped in the soft-skin of a multi-million dollar cuddly toy tie-in. We asked a huge multi-national corporation to entertain our children and they gave us the next generation of wage-slaves, and for that I damn them to eternal hell!
That’s all for this week. Join us next week when Kim Jong-un reviews Monsters, Inc.